Five episodes in, one of “The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City” has been accused of anti-Black racism. And it’s the only Black member of the cast, Mary Cosby.
It was a very tough episode for Cosby, who found herself at odds with … well, just about everybody.
‘Interracial issues are real’
In the midst of the ongoing battle at Mary’s “Met Gala” luncheon, which began in Episode 4, Jen Shah tells the other four Housewives that, several months earlier, Mary made “this weird comment” — that if she goes to a 7-Eleven “‘and I see Black people, I go to a different 7-Eleven.’”
Mary admits she said that. And, in an interview segment, says she has a “fear” of 7-Elevens, adding, “My mind just automatically goes violent when it comes to convenience stores.”
If there are Black people there, that is.
Jen — who’s married to a Black man — is also offended by Mary’s use of words like “ghetto” and “hoodlum.”
“If you look at the history, those are used in a derogatory manner to make people feel less than,” she says later. “Don’t do that. You’re not better than anybody else, Mary.”
But what really “hurt” her, she says, was the convenience store comment.
“Guess what? That’s my son, my nephew, my family that’s at that 7-Eleven that you won’t go to because you’re too good,” Jen says. “And I couldn’t sit there anymore and listen to this [expletive].”
Jen tells her husband, University of Utah assistant football coach Sharrieff Shah, about this, and he replies, “Interracial issues are real. There are Black folks that don’t like other Black folks and say racist comments all the time.”
“If somebody did that to [Sharrieff Jr.] or Omar, I would literally beat their a--,” Jen says, although her husband help her calm down. “I’m going to kill her with kindness,” Jen decides.
At the end of the episode, Mary tells Heather Gay she believes that Jen is jealous of her possessions. “She is triggered by what I have. I feel like she’s not used to it because of my color.”
“Like, it’s a black thing?” Heather asks in surprise. “What is Mary even saying?” Heather says later. “What does being Black have to do with Jen’s jealousy of her Chanel purses?”
Back at the luncheon
Mary’s attempt at an elegant luncheon goes further off the rails. Meredith Marks accepts Jen’s attempt at a blanket apology for past bad behavior, but Mary does not. And then Mary disputes Jen’s assertion that she says what the other women “are thinking, but don’t want to say.”
“I don’t think anybody at the table would say the things you say,” Mary says, adding a condescending wink. And then she pulls a face.
This escalates to Mary telling Jen, “I didn’t want to invite you” and angrily asking, “Why do you keep coming at me?”
“Because you keep coming at me,” Jen replies, correctly pointing out that Mary asked the women to open up about their feelings and is now attacking her because of what she said.
Heather tries to intervene, and Mary shuts her down. Mary orders Jen out of the restaurant, and Heather follows, convincing Jen to come back and make peace. But Mary is having none of it.
Heather correctly points out that Mary “came at” Jen, but Mary insists, “That’s not true. You have to accept what I say” — even though the other Housewives (and, now, viewers) all saw that’s exactly what happened.
Jen says she “wouldn’t be there if” she “didn’t care,” and Heather, Meredith Marks, Lisa Barlow and Whitney Rose all nod in agreement.
“It’s hard for me to open up,” Jen said. And when she did, Mary “took my legs out from under me.”
“I didn’t mean to do that,” Mary says. “But I didn’t know I wasn’t allowed to comment.”
Then the producers burn her with a clip from an hour earlier when she encouraged the other women to “talk one at a time. Nobody chime in.”
Heather says Mary’s behavior is “dismissive and it seems hypocritical.” Mary says, wagging her finger at Heather, “Don’t call me hypocritical!”
Whitney’s attempt to intervene doesn’t go any better. “After she finished, you didn’t accept it,” Whitney says.
“That’s not true,” Mary says.“Don’t tell me how I felt. You’re 30.” Yes, Mary dismisses Whitney because of her age.
“I am 30,” Whitney says later. (Well, 33 at the time.) “And you’re all old as [expletive] and acting like you’re 10.”
Jen leaves calmly, telling the other four Housewives she loves them. Mary says she “tried,” despite all the evidence to the contrary.
And then she asks Heather to give her the Louis Vuitton Airpods that were meant to be a gift for Jen “because I want them back.” Heather facepalms.
Later, Mary seems to realize things have not gone well for her at this lunch. “It’s like me against them. The whole team,” she tells her husband.
Whitney’s family history
Whitney and her brother, Will, meet to practice jiujitsu. They talk about Whitney’s father going to rehab. He didn’t follow through with a “sober living” program, and he’s going to try again.
And Whitney explains her immediate family tree. Her mother had two sons in her first marriage, including Will. Her father had a son and a daughter from his first marriage. Her parents then married each other and had Whitney and her sister.
When they divorced, it became “Mom’s kids against Dad’s kids,” Whitney says, and her father became addicted to painkillers.
Whitney asks Will, “Do you ever dream of having, like, parents that would, like …”
“Be normal?” Will interjects. “Yeah, be normal,” Whitney replies.
(Whitney had an affair with her husband Justin while he was married to his previous wife and parenting their three children. But in contrast to the division she described after her parents’ divorce, she has said she has an “incredible relationship” with her stepchildren — who attended the vow renewal she had with Justin as the season began.)
Later, Whitney drops her father, Steve, off at Cold Creek Behavioral Health in Brighton. She’s convinced this is “the thing that’s going to get my dad back.”
Heather and her ward
Heather says that people in her local Latter-day Saints congregation have treated her differently since her divorce.
“It doesn’t matter that we still have money. It doesn’t matter that I’m still showing up to church every week,” she says. “Suddenly” her daughters are not invited “to the same birthday parties they were going to. Suddenly, we’re not part of the same circle of families. So because of all that, my daughters aren’t really that into being Mormon anymore.”
Ashley, 17, and Annabelle, 13, say they don’t want to go back for fear of the judgment they’ll face for missing past meetings.
“But it doesn’t matter,” Heather says. “You don’t go for them, you go for you.”
“They’re so judgy about that,” Annabelle says. “That’s why I don’t like going to church.”
More Marks marriage woes
Seth Marks returns to Utah after several weeks of working in Ohio, which he loves. He asks Meredith if she’s planning to move there.
“No,” she says. “We’re not living in Ohio.”
“So where you live is more important than who you live with?” Seth asks — and things are immediately tense.
In an interview, Meredith recounts multiple moves the family has made for Seth’s jobs, adding that uprooting the family had “definitely” caused some “hostility in my marriage.”
“I would move anywhere for you,” Seth says nonsensically, given that he clearly doesn’t want to move back to Park City to be with Meredith.
Flash forward, and Seth is packing to go back to Ohio after a “hard couple of weeks,” Meredith says, filled with “a lot of arguing. As much as I want you here, I think that we need a little room.”
“You want room, I’ll give you room,” Seth says. “Maybe me being out of the picture for a while will help you find what you want. And maybe I’m not in the picture. … I don’t know if we’re going to make it.”
“I don’t disagree,” Meredith says.
The Marks marriage is also the topic of a conversation between Lisa and her husband, John. “Everybody goes through it. Especially when you’ve been married as long as all of us have,” she says.
Lisa tells viewers she believes marriage is “sacred. And when you get married in the Mormon church, it’s not ‘til death do you part, it’s for eternity. Nobody has a perfect marriage, but you pick a partner and you choose to make the best of it.”
Even though all marriages go through “times when you’re out of sync with each other,” she says. “I mean, I have thrown John’s Rolex out the car window.”
Not his Rolex! BTW, John did get the watch back. “Took forever to find it. It literally landed in a snowbank,” Lisa says.
Oh, she cares
“I don’t care what people think,” Mary insists to her husband, even though everything she says and does make it crystal clear she does care that Jen called her out for marrying and having sex with her step-grandfather.
Robert Sr. also says he “could care less” about what people think, but immediately contradicts himself by saying, “I’m supposed to grin and bear it?”
Heather does, however, grin and bear Mary’s accusations that she’s two-faced and goes to eat with her at Provisions in Salt Lake City. (Heather is unbelievably nice. And forgiving.)
“I really want Mary to know I can be her friend independent of my relationship with Jen,” Heather says. “I love her and I’m here for her. And I can be loyal to both of them at the same time.”
Mary opens up about her marriage to her step-grandfather. Who, she correctly points out, is not related to her by blood.
She admits, amid tears, she “didn’t want to” marry Robert Sr. — that the thought of it was “weird” to her. But her grandmother, Faith Temple Pentecostal Church founder Rosemary “Mama” Cosby, “wanted it. She really did. And so I obeyed her, because I trusted every word. If she managed to bring this church this far, then she has to be right. And look at my life.”
It took her two years to agree to marry Robert Sr. because she “had to be certain.”
“I started to pray … and when I did that, I felt peace with it,” she says later. “I chose what the man upstairs told me to do.”
Heather says she feels “deep empathy” for Mary. She says she got married herself “for my family and for my religion. The big difference is, I never had to call Billy ‘grampa’ or even ‘daddy.’”
‘Real’ bits and pieces
• While dining with Heather, Mary orders still water because, she tells their server, “carbonation hardens your ovaries.” Heather says later: “Carbonation affects your ovaries? ... That’ll be a double sparking water for me. No more kids. Thank you!”
• Meredith tells her son, Brooks, that Jen “pretty much apologized” for her bad behavior, and that Jen said she only gets angry because she cares. “She only yells at people she cares about?” Brooks asks. Hmmm … are Jen and Brooks ever going to face off in person?
• Ashley Gay’s boyfriend, Jadon, drives up and everyone knows he’s there because of the loud noise his car makes. Heather has “mad respect for that, although I think our neighbor does not.” The neighbor is right. It’s obnoxious and perhaps, illegal. It’s hard to tell on TV.
• Heather tells viewers, “In the Mormon community, you don’t allow your daughter to go to more than one dance in a row with the same boy, because that could lead to a serious relationship, which could lead to sex. But I let Ashley go out with Jadon because I trust her, and I want them to be carefree and young and in love.”
• Mary asks her husband to page their housekeeper to bring her a tray of food. Instead of, you know, paging the housekeeper herself.
• Lisa was speaking for many viewers, no doubt, in the midst of the “Met Gala” luncheon: “I feel terrible. I don’t like this feeling right now.”
• The Barlows celebrate Henry’s eighth birthday at an All Star Bowling Entertainment, and it seems like a pretty normal kid’s party. Except, maybe, for the huge light-up letters proclaiming “HENRY” to everyone in the place.
Episode 6 of “The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City” will air Wednesday, Dec. 16 on Bravo — 8 p.m. on DirecTV and Dish; 11 p.m. on Comcast.